Russian expert with devastating comment on a hypersonic missile – ‘Zircon is blind’
PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – The President of the Russian Union of Geopolitics and Doctor of Military Sciences Konstantin Sivkov made a humiliating and destructive comment on the capabilities of the considered most dangerous Russian supersonic missile Zircon, learned BulgarianMilitary.com
Sivkov does not deny the capabilities of the missile as much as the inability of the Russian military to direct and control it. According to him, in the event of a military conflict, the Russian military will not be able to determine which target to hit the supersonic missile because they do not have the necessary resources.
“We build muscles, but we tear the seams” is Sivkov’s summary.
We present to your attention the full comment of the expert.
The propaganda in the Russian Federation broadcasts around the clock about the anti-ship, hypersonic “wunderwaffe”, about the winged “Zircon” and the aeroballistic “Dagger”. Pike vests promise: our small frigates and submarines will be able to sink the American giant aircraft carriers. The ocean power of the Pindos collapsed. Hooray! Moreover, we will work with anti-ship “Calibers”.
But have we seen how such missiles hit maneuvering target ships?
In a crudely sloppy video shown in Vladimir Putin’s Address in March 2018, the Dagger crashed into a booth on a hill. Where is shooting shooting at moving objects hundreds of kilometers away? After all, both ships and planes will launch ultra-fast goodies at a target invisible beyond the horizon! It will not be captured by the missile homing heads (even if they then in some fantastic way continue to ripen through the red-hot plasma in flight). Anyone who fires “hypersonic” must know exactly where this or that enemy ship is at any given time. Otherwise, cruise missiles will fly into milk without capturing a target. In the USSR, there was a special satellite system “Legend”, which provided target designation for anti-ship missile launchers in real time – as an extensive network of other types of reconnaissance and target designation. Does the Russian Federation possess something similar?
When reconnaissance is as important as missiles
Simple calculations based on data from open sources say that the firing range of the “Dagger” is 1300 kilometers (propaganda is disingenuous, adding it to the combat radius of the carrier, the MiG-31M is 720 km and getting 2000 km). “Zircon” is a maximum of 1.5 thousand kilometers (it does not work further – the rocket is destroyed due to overheating). The anti-ship “Caliber” hits more than four hundred miles. But in any case, the shooter does not see the target. Someone must tell him where, say, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan or the cruiser URO of the Ticonderoga type is located, and only then can the weapon be released at the specified coordinates. You cannot approach so that the target appears on the horizon: you will be shot down or sunk by enemy deck planes.
Alas, the reconnaissance system of the modern Russian Navy does not have the forces and means even at the minimum acceptable level.
The basis for success in confronting naval groupings is preempting the enemy in a salvo. The side that previously managed to detect the enemy, correctly classified him, revealed with sufficient accuracy the formation of his squadron, the location of the ships in the orders, the location of the main targets, can almost guaranteed to defeat the enemy in the first strike. The ratio of the actual combat potentials may be of secondary importance.
One of the most important tasks of the Russian Navy remains the identification of areas of combat patrolling of enemy submarines with strategic ballistic and cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads. Each must be constantly monitored, revealing the systems of operational support for their activities in these waters. By accurately defining the structure of the system to ensure their combat stability.
Another important task of the Russian Navy is to determine the areas of combat use of multipurpose submarines of foreign states. Otherwise, how to organize anti-submarine operations and cover their nuclear submarines, “strategists” and multipurpose submarines? How do you protect your surface ships’ formations? Therefore, our reconnaissance system must identify the areas of the position of foreign multi-purpose boats with such accuracy that anti-submarine forces directed there would be able to quickly detect them. And so that our surface and submarine ships could evade enemy attacks.
The fight against the formations of the surface forces of a potential enemy is also an important task of the Russian Navy. And in peacetime, our fleet must watch the aircraft carrier and other naval strike groups of adversaries. With the outbreak of hostilities, they must be destroyed before they reach the line of completing their mission.
These are the main and most difficult operational tasks of the reconnaissance system of our fleet. But it should be capable of both peacetime and wartime monitoring of the coastal infrastructure of the navies of foreign states. First of all, potential adversaries, to open up areas of sea communications and their operational equipment with an accuracy that allows effective strikes against them with the beginning of the war.
At the tactical level, naval intelligence is required to detect and track enemy submarines, directing Russian anti-submarine forces to them. But the reconnaissance tasks are even more difficult when fighting the surface formations of enemy fleets. Open the formation of the enemy’s operational formations and the battle formations of the ship orders. Identify the main goals in them. Follow the changes in the formation of squadrons. Quickly pass on the data to those who will fire cruise missiles at the enemy. Give our commanders time to make a decision. And then the same intelligence should show the results of your strike. Note: the accuracy of determining the coordinates of targets should be sufficient to issue target designation to anti-ship missile systems.
If we are talking about reconnaissance of the enemy’s coastal infrastructure, then there are both stationary and mobile targets. For stationary objects, it is necessary to determine their functional structure with such precision as to select its most vulnerable elements, so that a blow on them would reliably disable the object. When it comes to mobile elements of coastal infrastructure, to everything else is added the need to determine the location of moving targets with an accuracy sufficient to issue target designation to our weapons.
How many goals do you need to track?
As you can see, the number of reconnaissance objects for our fleet is very large! We count.
There are about 20 foreign nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles. There are more than 150 multipurpose nuclear and non-nuclear submarines in the operational zones of our fleets. Surface ships and boats – more than a thousand pennants. Coastal infrastructure facilities – over one and a half thousand.
In peacetime, in the operational zones of our fleets there can be up to eight foreign nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles, up to 30 – multipurpose, up to two hundred surface ships of various classes and boats. With the outbreak of hostilities, their number will increase sharply. At the same time, the total area of the water area and the adjacent areas of the continents and island zones in the operational zones of our fleets exceeds several tens of millions of square kilometers. On such a huge area, all the many objects that our naval reconnaissance / target designation system must survey with varying efficiency.
Reconnaissance and target designation planes are too few
Can the intelligence of the Russian Navy ensure accurate firing of “Caliber”, “Zircon” and “Daggers”?
Let’s start with the aerial part. The Soviet Navy had more than a hundred Tu-16r and Tu-95rts reconnaissance aircraft to operate in sea and ocean theaters. By the mid-90s, about 48 of these aircraft remained. And today even that is not. The number of specialized aircraft and helicopters for reconnaissance of enemy surface forces as part of naval aviation is ridiculously small. These are only four Su-24MR aircraft from the Air Force of the Black Sea Fleet and two Ka-31 helicopters from the air group of the aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov”.
The Su-24MR, with a combat radius of only about 700 kilometers, is only suitable for closed naval theaters such as the Black Sea. And the Ka-31 helicopter with a combat radius of about 150 kilometers can only solve tasks of a tactical level as part of a ship formation. There are no reconnaissance aircraft capable of exploring ocean spaces at all in our navy. It should be noted that our ocean fleets do not have any specialized air reconnaissance aircraft.
In the 90s, ideas were expressed on the pages of the Tekhnika – Molodoi magazine that it was possible to build large reconnaissance propeller-driven UAVs capable of cruising over distant ocean areas for days. But all this remained only on paper. The Yankees have long-range high-altitude UAVs such as the Global Hawk, capable of flying for days in the stratosphere. The RF does not.
Reconnaissance aircraft include Tu-142M / MK and Il-38 / 38N anti-submarine aircraft. They can track and destroy enemy submarines. Back in the mid-90s, the Russian Navy had about a hundred such aircraft. Against the background of nearly five hundred American PLO aircraft, this is, of course, modest. But today the “hypersonic” RF does not have this either! According to open sources, the total number of anti-submarine aircraft in the Northern and Pacific fleets is estimated at about 32 units. For the solution of the entire complex of tasks of reconnaissance of the underwater enemy and the fight against him, this is completely insufficient.
In the army that had risen from its knees, for 20 years, the authorities did not bother to replace the old anti-submarine aircraft with flying boats of the Beriev Design Bureau or build an PLO air fleet on the basis of Tupolev Design Bureau passenger aircraft (Tu-214). Submarine hunters could also be made on the basis of the Il-96. But as you know, the Kremlin drove the Russian aviation industry into a quagmire. Apparently, the Olympic facilities of Sochi and football stadiums will conduct reconnaissance of American submarines.
The rest of the fleet of naval aviation, as a rule, will be able to solve reconnaissance tasks along the way, in the course of actions for the main purpose. Thus, our aerial reconnaissance subsystem does not meet modern requirements in terms of its quantitative and qualitative composition. It is not necessary to count on the fact that the aviation of the fleet will be able to solve the problem of giving target designation to long and medium-range missile systems.
Poor ship intelligence
To conduct ship reconnaissance, our fleet has (according to the Internet) 21 specialized ships. There are two large, 14 medium and five small. They are relatively slow-moving and practically unarmed. They can act effectively only in peacetime. Of the reconnaissance equipment they have, the radio and radio-technical reconnaissance (RR and RTR) have the greatest range. The rest of the reconnaissance assets operate within line of sight, and in case of war, their carriers will quickly overwhelm.
Reconnaissance and target designation can also be provided by submarines. At the ocean theaters, multipurpose nuclear submarines are engaged in sim. Today, there are 16 of them in the combat strength of our Navy, the most modern of which are one nuclear submarine of Project 885 and 11 boats of Project 971. For comparison: in the American Navy, the number of equivalent ships is estimated at more than 50 units.
Even taking into account the operational stress coefficient characteristic of the Soviet Navy, no more than two or three such submarines can be constantly at sea in peacetime. And this is on the area of the operational zones of the Northern and Pacific fleets, measured in many tens of millions of square kilometers! Even with a sufficiently good detection range for surface targets (under favorable hydrological conditions of several hundred kilometers), this is clearly not enough, not to mention the search for submarines of a potential enemy, the detection range of which is usually an order of magnitude less.
Non-nuclear submarines, the number of which in our fleet is estimated (in open sources) at 25 units at the end of 2019, can be continuously kept at sea up to four to five units. That is, one or two in each of the ocean and sea theaters. This is not enough even for the closed theaters of the Black Sea and Baltic.
Can surface combat units patch the hole?
Combat ships of the main classes (cruisers, large and small anti-submarine ships, frigates and corvettes) as part of our Navy, according to open sources, in all fleets of the Russian Federation – about 40 pennants. They, as a rule, conduct reconnaissance along the way with the solution of their main task. Moreover, the range of their main reconnaissance and surveillance assets is limited by the radio horizon. And only RR and RTR facilities can have over-the-horizon range. However, the equipment of such ships with these means is significantly weaker than that of specialized reconnaissance ships. In peacetime, nine to ten such ships can cruise at sea on a permanent basis, mainly for solving tasks as intended. Thus, the naval reconnaissance subsystem of our Navy does not have enough forces and means to quickly give out the coordinates of targets for fire with hypersonic weapons.
There is also a ground reconnaissance subsystem. It is based on ground-based RR and RTR centers, radio interception and direction finding. They can detect RES radiation in the HF range at a distance of up to three thousand kilometers or more, depending on the state of the ionosphere. However, the transition of the fleets of foreign states to the use of primarily space communication facilities, as well as the use of radio silence during a threatened period, to a certain extent neutralizes the significance of this type of reconnaissance for oceanic and naval theaters of war.
“But what about the space reconnaissance and target designation system ?!” – the reader will exclaim. And here we come to the most important thing. And sad.
Is there any hope for Liana?
In the 90s, the Soviet system of satellites “Legend”, which consisted of devices with radars and radio intelligence satellites, perished. It was she who could give out the coordinates of enemy ships in the ocean and sea in real time, ensuring accurate firing at them with cruise missiles of the USSR Navy.
As we are now told, it was replaced by the Liana space reconnaissance system. According to information from open sources, today it consists of four satellites, two of which are intended for conducting RTR (passive), and the other two – for radar reconnaissance (active). We are assured that “Liana” has characteristics significantly superior to those of “Legends”. Say, the accuracy of determining the location of the object of reconnaissance can reach one meter. Obviously, this is provided by means of reconnaissance located on satellites, and most likely radar reconnaissance. The magnitude of the error in determining the location of the object by the RTR satellites, judging by the available foreign and domestic experience, should be significantly greater and hardly less than a few nautical miles.
To provide high-precision reconnaissance and target designation for the same target, active and passive satellites must conduct reconnaissance simultaneously. Or at a short time interval, within a few minutes. The need to control operationally important areas in high latitudes presupposes a circumpolar orbit of satellites, which in such cases is elliptical. The high accuracy of determining the location of the target and the presence of active satellites entail a relatively low flight altitude – experts in open sources call numbers up to 300 kilometers. Taking into account the probable range of the reconnaissance means of these satellites (the distance is roughly estimated based on the known data on foreign analogs) and the expected time of their movement in orbit, it can be assumed that one target in the operationally important regions of the World Ocean that is significant for Russia is the four satellites of the Liana system will be able to view only twice a day with a probable duration of a session no more than six to nine minutes.
Chickens laugh! After all, satellite reconnaissance data is quickly becoming obsolete. Depending on the type of missile weapon to which target designation is issued, the data “souring” period is a maximum of several tens of minutes. The goals are moving. With such a size of the Liana near-earth grouping, it is problematic, to put it mildly, to provide accurate shooting with the Caliber, Dagger and Zircon complexes. Moreover, in a war, when the enemy will interfere with spacecraft and try to shoot them down.
At the same time, in order for the satellite data to be used for targeting missile weapons, there must be appropriate equipment on board surface ships, submarines and missile-carrying aircraft, since work through coastal centers dramatically increases the data aging time. And this can make them useless for providing rocket fire.
Therefore, in its current state, our space surveillance system is unable to fully ensure the use of the strike forces of the fleet to combat surface ships. Its capabilities in reconnaissance of an underwater enemy are even lower, judging by the data available in open sources. Or, taking into account the analogies with similar foreign systems and the Soviet “Legend”. With the current composition of satellites, the Liana system can be fully effective in solving the problems of reconnaissance of stationary ground objects. But this is too little to support the forces of the fleet.
In order for the RC satellite system to become full-fledged, it is necessary to increase its constellation by an order of magnitude (tenfold)! But so far “Liana” remains both slow and half-sighted. Why did the Kremlin not find the funds for this? Apparently, the construction of a race track for Formula 1, the Olympics and the Universiades, the costs of Syria, the Eurovision Song Contest and the purchase of foreign footballers are much more important for him. Or the main temple of the RF Armed Forces was built. Arch-dear. Will the priests from it provide intelligence and target designation for “Caliber” and “Zircon” to you? Or will you order to go to fortune-tellers with clairvoyants?
Are we going to shoot hypersonic missiles into the white light?
It can be stated that the reconnaissance and target designation system of the modern Russian Navy does not have the forces and means even at the minimum acceptable level. Of course, you can shout that we have “made” everyone in terms of hypersonic anti-ship weapons – paper and the shaken ether will endure everything. But in fact, the accuracy of shooting with the latest weapons is not at all ensured.
An analysis of the development priorities of the Russian Navy shows that virtually all efforts are concentrated on building up the fleet’s strike forces. Multipurpose and missile submarines are being modernized and rebuilt, missile cruisers are being updated, frigates, corvettes and other warships are leaving the stocks. Naval aviation is being replenished with new aircraft and helicopters. This is all very pleasing. However, the forces and means of the reconnaissance / target designation system remain outside the attention of the command. So, the fleet will not receive a single reconnaissance aircraft of the ocean zone in the near future. One gets the impression that by building up the “muscles” of our Navy, the bosses are leaving it blind.
Is the Russian authorities going to shoot their “wunderwaffe” into the world, like a pretty penny? Where will your Project 22350 superfrigates shoot? Or heavy missile cruisers that are supposedly “better than an aircraft carrier”? Monstrous non-professionalism and voluntarism, against which Khrushchev nervously smokes on the sidelines. Defense trillions down the drain. Therefore, it is not surprising that we have not yet been shown how Russian miracle missiles hit target ships. Under Nikita Kukuruzny, the then anti-ship missiles were at least tried on old cruisers. At least in the same “Red Caucasus”.
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